Work · Writing

The Next Step

I have finished my novel planning with the Snowflake Method. I am very happy about that, but at the same time, I am now terrified of actually picking up my novel again and writing it, again, but better this time.

It’s stressful, okay? I know I should be ecstatic I finally wrangled the novel plot into better shape, but man, now I’m feeling inadequate in the whole writing process things. What if I just suck really, really bad at putting words together to form a cohesive whole? What if what I planned to convey just completely falls flat? What if my planning itself has so many plot holes that I just didn’t see? What if? What if? What? Endless questions and self-doubt plagued me for the past few days. It doesn’t help that I also got summoned for jury duty in a courthouse pretty far from me, and very inconvenient to get to. Fear of dealing with that and chance of Covid and everything just paralyzed me for the entire day yesterday. I’ve put in a transfer request but who knows what’ll happen there? Uncertainty is not a good base state for me to tackle my novel in earnest. (Not even thinking about Ukraine and Russia and all that, nope!)

But the good news is that I got over all the anxiety from yesterday today. Well, okay, getting over is a little optimistic, I managed my anxiety so it’s not debilitating that I can’t think about work. Hence I am working today, or trying to talk myself into starting it. If at the end of the day I can write one paragraph I’d consider it a win. Seriously, this is so ridiculous. Hopefully every day I’ll get a little bit less anxious, and in a couple of weeks I’ll be writing normally, like a writer should, instead of whatever crawling pace I have now.

Work · Writing

Goal!

Alright, so after some turbulent, stressful hours (days?), I finally finished Step 7 of the Snowflake Method for my novel planning. It’s not quite the step outlined in the official Snowflake Method since I made changes because of where I am with my novel, more akin to Step 8 where you’re making a detailed outline. Anyway, I just want to declare that, finally, I’ve completed my outline for the whole novel. And boy, it is a lot. Super plot-heavy and I’m still not sure about all the transition parts and character developments and all that, but those are worry for another day. Today, I’m happy I got this step done. Felt like I had a mini-heart attack every time I sat down to work on this. But it is over! Done!

I’ve discovered that it was mostly the middle part that really messed me up. The beginning third I’ve more or less already written, and the last third I have a pretty good idea because I know how I want things to end up. But the middle third I was struggling for real! Took some insanely long time to hash out the outline for that part, it was like pulling teeth! I broke a 11-line outline into two separate days because I had a colossal headache trying to get everything to flow. It was so stupid and crappy. But I got through it, and once I moved on to the last third things went much, much faster. So as of now I am officially done with the outline part, and all that’s left is a comprehensive review of everything I’ve done, and then I can go back and resume my writing. You know, the most important aspect of writing a novel, that part.

But that’s for the Next Week Me to figure out. Today Me will take it easy and have a relaxing weekend, because I deserve a little bit of downtime. The grind can wait.

Work · Writing

What Goes Between the Plotty Bits?

I’m making a post because I’m terrified of working on my outline. No lie, y’all. I finished the rough outline for part 1 yesterday and took a small look at part 2 and, ho boy, talk about messed up and sparse. This outline is the last bit before I resume actual writing and I’m sitting here cross-eyed going “how does any of these events connect and fit together???” Where are the character development bridge parts? How long are my chapters these seem awfully dense with plot. OMG everything’s bad!

So yeah, uh, mini-freak out aside, the best way is just to list everything I already have and fill in the blanks….somehow haha. I have no idea. It’s why I’m procrastinating with this blog rather than actually trying to work on it. I’m sure when I start writing in earnest I’ll have a lot more problems than the measly issue I have here, today, but that’s a way off. Right now I could really use a giant cup of coffee.

Work

January Round-Up

Hi folks. A month into 2022 and I, for the first time, feel like I’m progressing on my work. So many big things have happened this month, though, from my own health, to my family’s health both in America and China, to my friends moving out of state (she’s aiming for Canada, can’t blame her at this juncture), to a slew of other crazy life stuff (Bengals going to the Super Bowl what?? On Year of the Tiger no less lol). But I trudged on despite it all, and more importantly, I am where I’d like to be with my novel, and that’s not something I could say about it for the past few years.

I did take a lot more breaks than I anticipated, so I didn’t work as much as I’d like, but that’s more of a quantity issue than quality. I am content that I finally figured out how to deal with some major plot holes, and I think the story has evolved quite a bit because of it. Now all I need to do is make sure I do enough hours of work. I think once I actually get the detailed outline written, the writing process will then become a pure time-spent issue, and not a stuck-for-days-and-write-nothing-because-the-central-plotline-is-borked issue, do you know what I mean? At least I hope that’s the case haha. I don’t know, I’m not there yet. I need to actually finish the whole Snowflake Method first.

I’m hoping I can actually start writing the words in February. That’s the goal anyway. We’ll see if that is achieved in the next month’s round up.

Work · Writing

Geez, Stuck on Settings Again??

This entry, unlike my last one, is just pure writing gripe. First of all, I’m glad to be writing again, period. After my last entry I had to take a few days off to fully absorb the news. It’s not like I have cancer or anything (knock on wood!), but it is a condition that requires some life adjustment. Or at least expectation adjustment. I thought I just needed a day or two, but that didn’t turn out to be enough. Anyway, I tried to work yesterday and somewhat succeeded. I felt more trepidations on starting everything and was not concentrating as well. But today I feel totally energized. And I think I’m ready to jump back in.

So what am I working on in my planning document? Settings. Again. Yep. I really thought I had gotten it all figured out, but nope, turns out there are some major contradictions and plotholes in my overall setting – I’m talking about the whole trilogy’s background, rathe than this singular book’s – that I didn’t even realize were an issue until I talked to my s.o., and he was like, waitaminute, some of the initial premise doesn’t make any sense. So yeah, back to the drawing board I go! Fortunately, the plot of the novel itself is not really affected, so at least I don’t have to reorganize that whole spiel. Until the outline phase, that is, but that’s Far Future Me’s problem. Today and Tomorrow Mes will be focused on making the setting fit the novel properly.

It is my fault, I know, in the grand scheme. I have been obsessing over some details while ignoring others, and it just happened that some of the parts I ignored are actually quite important, and definitely should’ve been settled early on. Oops. Guess that’s just how the writing process works, eh? Nothing else to do but trudge on. So my hope of actually putting words down by second week of February will probably have to be scrapped. But I’m not really working the full 4 hours yet, so maybe reaching that daily goal would offset the setback. That will be my February goal, I suppose. Work full time and try to start actual writing before the month ends.

Work · Writing

No Motivation, and Some Adjustment

I do NOT want to work today. Nope. I think the past three tough days kind of drained me, and today is Friday, so I’m like, wow, I have no motivation to open up my document and work on it. Zero. But, you know, too bad! So many people are exhausted and are forced to work in dangerous conditions right this minute. They make do. What’s my privileged excuse?

Anyway, yesterday I took a good look at the rest of the Snowflake Method, and realized I actually did a lot of steps in one step by accident. I think this method is great if you’re just starting to think about your novel, but is a bit slow for me who’s been ruminating on this novel for literally years. I already know a lot of the advanced stuff because I’ve thought through all those, but I still needed to use the method to really work out some of the major kinks that were keeping my story from being cohesive and whole. Not to say I won’t have issues when it comes to actually writing it, but at least the overall goal is much clearer per chapter. (Or I hope – because I haven’t done the detailed outline part yet, and that’s when things can all fall apart.) So like I said yesterday, I’ve added a step for detailed setting sheets. I’ve also put minor character sheets as its own step because I also have some very important minor characters, who’re going to be the major characters in the next book, so I need to get their stories straight too. And of course the all important outline. Although the method calls for an Excel sheet for that step, I think Scrivener does a good enough job. I’m not afraid of Excel sheets, okay? Hell, I’ve worked in data entry before, so yeah, very familiar. I just like keeping everything I have in one program, and I paid for Scrivener so I’m going use it, dammit. lol.

So when it’s all said and done there’s going to be only 9 steps in my adjusted method. (Eight if you don’t count the review step, but I think a final look at the whole thing before I start writing in earnest is important.) I think at the pace I’m going, I will be done with the whole process by the first week of February. So right after Chinese New Year week I can legitimately tackle my novel again. Wow. So scary to think about. So I’m NOT going to think about it right now. Today Me’s problem is definitely trying to work on the settings sheets. At least get one done, you know? Gotta get over that laziness and lack of motivation to keep going!

Work · Writing

Super Tired

I was so tired yesterday, y’all. You wouldn’t believe. First of all I haven’t been sleeping well because I was having my period, so I took a whole lot of pain pills before I went to bed. Well, turns out that heats me up so I was very uncomfortable. I mean it’s either pain or hot, and I think being hot distresses my sleep less than pain. So I already woke up groggy for three days straight. Also add in the fact that there’s very loud construction right outside my window for the past two weeks. I didn’t realize how damn hard it is to concentrate on writing when there’s incessant, loud clanking all throughout the afternoons. So I was focusing so hard trying to work, while being sleep-deprived and annoyed, while also being anxious about the usual how-much-I-suck. I was so exhausted yesterday, that when I was finally done with the portion of my work I pretty much passed out immediately after dinner.

But. The good news is that I did get Step 4 done! Just finished editing it today and will start on Step 5! I’m going to have to make some changes to the steps to tailor it to my novel, though. For example, in addition to character sheets I also have place sheets, and for this novel the setting is very important. The desert that a lot of the plot takes place in is almost like a character itself, so I’m going to take some time out to work on those. Either way, I’m pretty surprised that I actually am steadily making progress. I did not think I’d be able to make it this far. In fact, I have never made it this far with planning before. You know that horrible Tuesday I had with that one character setup? Yeah, Previous Me’s would have given up and scrapped the thing altogether already. But not Current Me! No, sir, Current Me is determined and more motivated than I had ever been in a long, long time. So yes, onto step 5, even though I’m still ridiculous tired from it all. At least today I slept okay.

Work

Step 3 Done!

Woot! I officially finished step 3 of the Snowflake Method for my novel! Yay!

Yes, miniscule accomplishment, but I think every small step needs to be celebrated. I don’t have a boss to tell me “job well done”. Or even something like “aha, made it under the timeline even though it’s meh work!”. Everything is just me, myself, and I. Until I completely finish the novel and all the things that come after, the ‘during’ process is just one big blah of a marathon. So any tiny marker of accomplishment is important to keep going.

Took me way too long to seriously digest and understand that mentality. So today I’m celebrating finishing this tiny milestone. I’m giving myself tomorrow off. And then I can go on to tackle Step 4 and beyond.

Step 4 is arguably even more scary than Step 3 but, you know, that’s Sunday me’s problem. Friday me is just going to chill and watch tv for the rest of the day.

Happy Friday and long weekend, folks!

Work · Writing

What I Work On Affect My Mood

Title is kind of like, duh! But it’s interesting to observe this now that I’m consistently working. I’m sure this happened before, but because I felt anxious all the damn time, I never actually seriously analyzed exactly what was causing me to be depressed, you know? Well, now I inadvertently have, and the conclusion is, uh, what I explicitly work on matters!

So let’s just take the past few days. On Monday I was semi-okay, kind of excited to work even. Tuesday was horrible. No motivation, no creativity, almost cried in bed but didn’t (and still managed to get some work done!) Yesterday I was a bit better, and today was very neutral. The reason for this swing? Well, right now I’m working on very detailed character sheets. On Monday I was finishing up one, and it was fine. On Tuesday I was starting on the next character, who is very complicated in both motivation and plot elements, and I think I completely froze up on how hard it’ll be to write him. Hence all the anxiety, doubt, hatred for myself, etc. etc. Yesterday I was finishing up the second half of the character sheet, so because I already had a starting point, it was much easier. And today I’m starting my last major character and she’s not nearly as complicated as the previous guy. So I’m okay today. I literally felt awful because the thought of tackling a perceived difficult character wrecked me. What if I just can’t do it? What if I make a super messy, crappy character with a plotline that makes no sense? What if this, what if that? I fought through it, because I did get it done, but it was a bad day overall because of it.

I’m not sure what I can do in the future to prevent this. I guess the most I could do was no matter how shitty I keep going? Tomorrow is a better day? Upon contemplating today I realized my current character could use a bit more tweaking because I want her to be a little more complicated than she was. So I did that. I’ll finish her tomorrow. All in all the day is going okay, and I’ll be on track to finally finish the character sheets by tomorrow. And then it’ll come plot outlines and…yeah, I’m not thinking of that at all, okay? Too daunting to pre-think; better if I just take as it comes. If that means I’ll have a couple of awful days where I don’t know if I can handle starting it? Let it be. Because I think, and I kind of have proof from this week, that I can handle it, somewhat. Which is better than before when I just stopped progressing.

Work · Writing

All Hail the…Cookie?

Okay, so here’s something really weird going on with me. Oh, and it’s work related not baking related, so yeah curb your expectations please haha. Anyway, as I said before, I’ve finally started to do a huge overhaul of my novel, because it desperately needs it before I can continue writing. And it’s hard. Ho boy I’m still on only step 3 of the Snowflake Method and it’s making me stressed as hell. I have 4 major characters and I’m supposed to write an overall plotline for them along with physical descriptions, internal struggles, the works. Cool. Should be able to drum that out in a day or two, right? NOPE! I started last week and only just now finished with 2 characters. Pathetic, I know, although the first character took longer to finish than the second one, which I mark as progress.

But during this process, I discovered something that’s kept me going despite me wanting to shut down the document and run away every few minutes. (Yes, I legitimately panic whenever I write a sentence or two, because I feel like everything sucks and I suck the worst, and I have the urge to close everything and go to bed and watch mindless youtube videos forever.) And that is, oddly, a small web-based game called cookie clicker. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, from like a decade ago? Anyway, it used to be that I would write a few sentences, maybe some paragraphs on a good day, and then I’d feel panic at how bad I am and go on reddit, and then boom, 2 hours have passed by and I only wrote like 100 words. Then I’d feel bad about wasting all that time, and then I’d just give up altogether. And that’s how I made no progress on anything for years. I mean it, YEARS. The more depressed I got the worse progress I made, and the lack of progress made me more depressed, and hence a ridiculous cycle of doom was born. Well, on a whim last week, instead of going to reddit, I decided to play cookie clicker. I don’t know why; I just did. And I discovered that I could write a couple of sentences, click on a bunch of cookies, and return to writing after just a few minutes! It’s still slow and dumb, I mean imagine after every sentence you type you take a two-to-five-minute break clicking things. But it’s vastly shorter than 2 hours on reddit, npr, whatever, and I did not freak out and feel useless afterwards, because after a bit of cookie clicking I somehow am ready to write again! No, I don’t understand why. I would love to, but I don’t. But all I care about is that, as slow as it is, it. Is. Working.

And getting better. Because I definitely feel like sorting out my second character went faster than my first. Plus I didn’t give up after a tough spot, or rather, many, many tough spots, and kept going. Even now, as I’m typing this entry, I took a few breaks to click on the cookies. Only a few seconds later and I’m good at continuing! Sure, I cannot make the four hours a day deadline yet, but I feel like I can reach it, you know, instead of it being something completely impossible. All thanks to an ancient, idle web-browser game. What a weird discovery.

I’ll keep you updated if there are more weird changes. I feel like I’m jinxing it or something. Seriously, I’d like an explanation for this phenomenon. If I knew this’ll be the stupid trick to get my brain going I’d have done it a long, long time ago.